We need to talk about Care Homes

Looking at the steadily rising numbers of Covid outbreaks in Care Homes through September it seemed as if ‘something’ was happening, and that ‘something’ wasn’t good. That ‘something’ is now beyond bad. There were a few learning points from the first wave of Covid earlier this year. The basic message of wash hands, face masks (sort of) and safe distance; Hands, Face, Space seemed a simple message, and the fundamentals underlying that message hold good and accepted by most that …

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The curious case of the Department of Health

Abortion has been legal in Northern Ireland for over a year now. Under the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020, terminations up to 12 weeks are now lawful. Abortions after 12 weeks are heavily restricted. Terminations are available up to 24 weeks if there is a risk to the mental or physical health of the woman. There is no time limit where there is a fatal fetal abnormality. With the law firmly in place, it was expected that the commissioning of …

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NI health minister: will someone think of the service?

The DUP seem to have had a bit of a problem with Health Ministers. Despite health and personal social services being the largest department by spending, it is actually unlikely that they wanted it. It is unlikely anyone wanted the ministry and it was the penultimate one chosen. At some level the DUP can be given credit that they did not take Higher Education and leave Alliance with the baby but the number of recesses etc. which were held during …

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McCann meets….Edwin Poots MLA

 The final instalment of my series of interviews is with the Health minister, Edwin Poots. I must admit this was the interview I was most nervous about doing but when you meet him in person he is actually a very affable person. What struck me was how relaxed he was for a person in his job and the applause he received during Peter Robinson’s speech shows his popularity among the party faithful. Apparently he is a reader of the blog-so …

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Independent review into children’s congenital heart services

At the start of this month the Health and Social care Board released a report into paediatric congenital cardiac services in Belfast. The report was by a team of highly respected experts in the field chaired by Professor Sir Ian Kenny. The panel made a number of important conclusions: 3 ii: It is the surgical element of the service that provokes concern. iii: The panel has not identified any immediate safety concerns presented by the current arrangements v: However, the …

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Godot arrives: Compton Review delivers

Last week I suggested that Northern Ireland health reform was like waiting for Godot. Now Godot has arrived, told us he is sorting out major changes and that he will be back soon. The Compton Review (pdf) is a large and highly impressive document. Despite having been carried out in only a few months it has clearly been well researched with examples taken from best practice throughout the UK. There are twenty one chapters which detail everything from maternity to …

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Waiting for Godot: Northern Ireland’s health care

Waiting for Godot, one of Samuel Beckett’s greatest works, documents Vladimir and Estragon’s fruitless wait for the eponymous Godot. At times waiting for health reform in Northern Ireland has been rather like Beckett’s play: lots of promises that it is about to happen but nothing ever does. In 1966 there was apparently a plan to have six main hospitals for Northern Ireland and most of the reviews subsequently have suggested that as the optimal number of acute hospitals. Throughout Direct …

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